Wednesday, January 28, 2004


staying one step ahead of the Beatles' copyright attorneys

I can't remember for certain but I'm fairly sure that Hua first put me up on this Danger Mouse: Grey Album mix-CD which takes Jay-Z's BLack Album and remixes it by only using tracks off of the Beatles' White Album. an idea, you might either find this incredibly brilliant or ridiculously pretentious and as Hua pointed out, it's still a gimmick, high-concept or not. After all, The Grey Album follows right on the footsteps of Lt. Dan's The Black Album: Back to Basics, MF Doom's Nastradoomus and the one that started it all: 9th Wonder's God's Stepson. This all said, gimmick doesn't mean it's bad, and in this case, I think The Grey Album is fantastic, unquestionably the best among all the remix-CDs that have come out yet.

It's not just that Danger Mouse challenges himself to only use one album as the source for all his remixes - that's part of the gimmick. It's that he does a great job on refitting Jay-Z over these various beats pilfered from the Fab 4. Not everything works - for example, DM's remix for "Public Service Announcement" is rhythmically awkward, like it's always a half step off somewhere. However, the bulk of the mixes sound fantastic and DM sounds like he and Prefuse have been practicing their MPC skills since his drum programming delivers more chops than a Chinese cleaver. The other thing too - Danger Mouse avoids using the really obvious melodic signatures from most of the Beatles' songs. One exception is "As My Guitar Gently Weeps," (a track that Ghostface also recently used on a mixtape exclusive cut) which DM laces underneath "What More Can I Say".

My favorite remix so far is DM's take on "Justify My Thug", whose original (by DJ Quik) was probably one of my least favorite tracks on the album. This time around, DM hushes the vibe, laying down a mellow guitar line that is surprisingly effective, and as a result, the song sounds totally different (and in my opinion, better).

In just a few weeks, The Grey Album is going to be joined by lord know's how many other similar projects (refer back to Hua's blog for more info on those). Not having heard The Brown Album or The White Album or The Magenta Album (ok, that last one was a joke...but who knows?), I can't really say who's will be the best. But, Danger Mouse lays down a challenge to be outdone and I'm willing to put down good money that his mix will reign supreme at the end of it all.